Asia’s answer to the TNFUTMB is the UTMF 100, a mountain 100 miler that circumnavigates the ancient volcano of the title name. It has over 9000 metres of elevation gain so it is not for the feint hearted.
The ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI is an unparalleled event that challenges the human spirit through the outdoor sport of trail running. By connecting mountain trails, local footpaths and forest roads around the foothills of Mt. Fuji, this 161km course allows participants to enjoy majestic 360 degree views of Mt. Fuji while experiencing the stunning natural beauty and culture of this region.
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki has been instrumental in this race and after his experiences at the TNFUTMB, he was sure that Mt Fuji was the only place in Asia possible to offer a race on a par with the iconic 100 miler that has its home in Chamonix. In actual fact, TNFUTMB race director, Michel Poletti is toeing the line at UTMF just two weeks after finishing the 28th edition of the Marathon des Sables.
The 2012 and inaugural edition of the UTMF had initially had an incredible start list that had included Scott Jurek, Mike Wolfe, Sebastien Chaigneau and Tracy Garneau. However, all mentioned did not turn up and race. This opened up the race and Salomon athlete, Julien Chorier topped the podium in a time of 18:53:12. Running his first 100 miler, Arc’teryx athlete, Adam Campbell placed 2nd (listen to Adam on the latest Talk Ultra episode HERE) and Kenichi Yamamoto placed third.
The 2012 ladies race was dominated by Salomon athlete Nerea Martinez Urruzola in 24:05:04 with Hiroko Suzuki second almost three hours later and Nora Senn third.
What does 2013 have in store?
Well, from a European and Australian perspective we will see a quality race at the head of the race. The success of the 2012 UTMF has encouraged Julien Chorier, no1 to return and defend his title.
Certainly Julien is the pre race favourite, he has knowledge of the course, understands the demands required and of course he is the title holder. However, TNF athlete, Sebastien Chaigneau will almost certainly have a different outlook on how the race unfolds… he had a mixed 2012 and ultimately it was a year to forget by his standards. He came into 2013 motivated and his stunning performance at Transgrancanaria will mean Julien will need to be looking over his shoulder or maybe even ahead of him for this race.
Gary Robbins, no 102 (Salomon) from Canada is also going to be flying and ready for this race. Gary has an incredible story (listen to his interview on Talk Ultra HERE) and after being sidelined for almost two years, he returned in the latter half of 2012 and not only dominated but set a new CR at Hurt 100. He has a new outlook on his racing… he is going to race less, but when he races, he will make it count. Definitely my hot tip for the win.
Inov-8 athlete Brendan Davies, 1061 fresh from Tarawera ultra will be confronting the 3,776 m Mount Fuji and he will revel in the task ahead of him. Brendan has plenty of speed but will he have the climbing legs to be up at the front. He has said on his blog that he his in the form of his life. (listen to Brendan Davies interview HERE).
Christophe Le Saux, 1099 (Hoka One One) only last week finished in the top ten of the Marathon des Sables. He will be lining up to test himself. Logic says that fourteen days between ‘MDS’ and UTMF is not enough, but, Christophe loves the hard, technical and gnarly courses as he has proved at Tor des Geants in the past.
In addition to the above, Grant Guise, 108 from Australia, Jeremy Ritcey, 111 a Canadian who lives in Hong Kong and of course many of the local Japenese runners will figure.
Nerea Martinez Urruzola is not returning to defend her title, so, this does mean the ladies race is wide open… arguably though, the competition has greater depth for the second edition of the race.
Krissy Moehl, 1106 (Patagonia) from the USA needs no introdction to the ultra world. Her reputation is well established and as such, her twelve years in the sport and her TNFUTMB win will all come into play in helping her make the top of the podium here. She was fourth at the renowned Hardrock 100 in 2012 and of course this will set her up perfectly for the 9000m of vertical at UTMF.
Hong Kong based Brit, Claire Price, 173 (Salomon)will have a great perspective of what is required on this demanding course. She recently won Hong Kong 100 and although this is the first time racing in Japan, the distance may be her stumbling block. She will need to respect the distance and the terrain. She finished Western States in 2012 but didn’t have a great race.
Finally, Inov-8 athlete Shona Stephenson, 1062 will be racing in her first international 100 miler ahead of what is a daunting year of races. She has already raced at Tarawera and Northburn 100 and will be racing at TNFUTMB and also participating in the Skyrunning ultra series in 2013. Shona has trained in the Blue Mountains and although she has great speed, will this lack of high mountains allow her to perform to her best in and around Mount Fuji?
Of course, local competition will have an advantage on this course. So expect some surprises!
|DATE||Friday, April 26, 2013. Starting at 3:00 pm.|
|CUMULATIVE ALTITUDE GAIN||9,000m|
|# OF RACERS||800|
|START / FINISH||Yagisaki Kouen, Kawaguchiko, Fujikawaguchiko-cho, YamanashiPrefecture|
Race website: HERE